The cuts continue unabated and there was a double whammy of protests outside Lambeth Town Hall last night. Save Lambeth Libraries campaign demonstrated against staff cuts, reduced services and possible closures, while other groups lobbied the council over cuts to children’s services. Here are a few pics:
Tag Archives: cuts
Kaye Wiggins reports from Saturday’s protest against cuts to library services
Abibat Olulode, who works at Brixton library, and Anna Tomlinson, from the library in Streatham, are among a group of around 100 people who staged a protest outside Brixton library yesterday. They say they have no idea what Lambeth council’s spending cuts will mean for the service because they haven’t been told.
“All I know is what I’ve read in the South London Press,” says Abibat. “But it’s obvious that there are going to be big cuts.”
She says she fears the library’s outreach services will be hardest hit by the cuts. “The money we get will be for our core service, so we will have to stop the other work,” she says. “This means things like literacy development activities, reading groups and programmes to help refugees. These services are for the more vulnerable people yet they’re being hit the hardest. That’s why we’re here to protest.”
The deputy leader of Lambeth Council, Jackie Meldrum, visited the library on the morning of the protest, but Abibat says this wasn’t enough to reassure the protesters. “I didn’t hear her, but I expect she just said what she always says – that we have to blame the cuts on the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in the government,” she says.
“I think she’s wrong about that. The council shouldn’t be complicit in finding mealy-mouthed ways to make these cuts. It should stand up to the government and demand more money.”
Rod Smith, a retired Unison member and a regular user of Brixton library, says he is worried about the council’s plans to transfer responsibility for running libraries to community groups, who would make greater use of volunteers to run the service.
“If you want libraries to be run properly, you need paid, trained staff,” he says. “Why should people’s public services be run by volunteers?
“The council is the biggest employer in Lambeth. It is setting a bad example by saying to other employers that it’s ok to let people work for free instead of paying professionals.”
Abibat points out that she has a masters degree in information service management. “How many of the volunteers will have that qualification?” she says. “They won’t, and they’ll quit when the work gets tough.”
Saturday 5 Feb: Lambeth Save Our Services will be joining the National Day of Action to Defend Libraries outside Brixton Library in Windrush Square. Sign the petition to save Lambeth Libraries against the cuts here.
Monday 7 Feb: Lambeth Save Our Services again. This time they’ll be protesting against the budget cuts at 6pm outside Lambeth Town Hall, while the council cabinet meets inside.
Wednesday 23 Feb: It’s the day the council decides the budget. Expect demonstrators en masse.
The stats from last night’s Scrutiny Committee:
Amount the council says it will save in 2011/12 through “efficiency savings”
Amount the council will cut from frontline services in 2011/12
Number of posts in the council’s communications team that have been made redundant. The number of full-time equivalent posts has fallen from 43 to 20
Number of posts in the council’s policy, equalities and performance team that have been made redundant. The number of full-time equivalent posts has fallen from 43 to 25
Amount cut from the council’s human resources budget for 2011/12. Last year the budget was £2.8m
Kaye Wiggins reports from last night’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee at Lambeth Council – councillors, parent governors and church representatives meet to publicly hold Lambeth’s decision-makers to account
Lambeth’s policing, schools, housing, care services and back-to-work programmes will be protected from the council’s £79m in spending cuts, council leader Steve Reed told councillors last night.
At a meeting of the council’s scrutiny committee, Reed said the council must save £79m over the next three years because of cuts in its funding from central government. It would announce its final plans for doing this on 23 February, he said.
Reed said he had identified the five areas as priorities that needed to be sheltered from spending cuts.
In practice, he said, this meant the council would make sure there were 100 extra police officers on the beat in 2011/12. It would retain its funding for police community support officers, targeted youth services and support for victims of domestic violence, he said.
Reed also said the council would not change its eligibility criteria for care services and would protect funding for schools, housing and employment services.
“We have saved £24m through efficiency savings,” he said. “To do this we have hollowed out our back office so much that there must be a risk about our ability to deliver frontline services.”
“We can’t protect all vulnerable people, but we’ve chosen to protect the most vulnerable people.”
Reed confirmed that the council would not cut the pay, sick leave and holiday entitlements of council staff. “It is not worth being aggressive with our staff when they are already going through immense pain,” he said.
Primary school league tables for Lambeth were published yesterday. The BBC explains how to read the tables here. It’s interesting to note that 15 Lambeth schools boycotted Sats this year in opposition to the way the data is compiled into league tables, with many claiming that the focus on Sats is to the expense of teaching the broader curriculum. Nationally, faith schools have performed the best and that’s the case in Lambeth too, with Corpus Christi and St John the Divine schools showing the highest average point scores.
And it was announced this week that Lambeth council will have 8.72% cut from its budget, exluding NHS funding for 2011/12. See here for Londonist’s very useful map. And here for Cllr Pete Robbins’ explanation of how the cuts will affect Lambeth.